Friday, May 30, 2014

The Syrian Presidential Elections; Devolution of a Revolution. Part II. By Ghassan Kadi.


THE SYRIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS; DEVOLUTION OF A REVOLUTION.
Part II

By Ghassan Kadi. 30 May 2014


Are Syrians going to the polls now to actually make a choice, or is this a façade operation orchestrated by the “regime” as the “Anti-Syrian Coalition” wants us to believe? We cannot superficially look at today’s event without examining the growing pains that have led to this moment.


President Hafez Assad was a man of great wisdom and vision, and he knew it. He knew what was right for Syria and its people, and he knew that only through hard work, perseverance, prudence and above all, great sacrifices that Syria could return to the road of recovery.


His perception of Syria was not any different from his perception of Palestine and Lebanon. On the 8th of March 1974, he made a clear message to Israel and the West when he said that Palestine was “a principal part of Southern Syria”. He later on sent his troops into Lebanon to prevent it from being blackholed into the Israeli sphere of dominion. 

For his perception of Palestine, he paid a hefty price. He was punished heavily by the West and misunderstood by Arabs; including the PLO chief Yasser Arafat.

He always rightfully believed that the Palestinian question was too big for Palestinians to handle on their own. It is, in his view, a central Arab issue, and more specifically, a Syrian issue.

“Peace is not for the weak” President Assad always said, and he was unable to persuade Arab leaders of his long-term agenda of building up enough might to stand up against the bullish American-Israeli alliance. Arab leaders had already taken the decision to comply with the wishes of the enemy, and the last thing they wanted was a confident patriot telling them that they should unite and fight, especially if that patriot was an Alawite.    

Even Arafat insisted on the “independent Palestinian decision”, and his decisions were often at odds with those of Assad and did not fit into the long-term strategies. Assad regarded Palestine as a part of Syria and that it was his stewardship that was needed to bring it justice, but Arafat regarded him as a domineering dictating usurper.

Unable to make sense to Arab defeatists and the gung ho Arafat, Assad invested in educating the Syrian population about the responsibility that rested on their shoulders. Once again, he needed longevity and consistency in order to be able to achieve this, and not policies that can be swept away by the winner of the next “democratic” elections.

This finally brings us to the current Syrian Presidential election.

When Syrians went to vote for Hafez Assad from 1971 onwards, they did not have much of a choice. This is true. 

Hafez Assad was a great believer in the patriotism of his people. The memories of Yusuf Al-Azmeh and his gallant men were alive in his memory. Al-Azmeh moved with an outnumbered and ill-equipped regiment to stop the French occupation of Damascus in 1920. Al-Azmeh with his men marched to their certain death, but they were determined not to allow the French into Damascus unopposed. 

The victorious Henri Gouraud marched into Damascus, desecrated the tomb of Saladin by putting his foot on it saying: “Saladin, we have returned”. Memories of those stories, the western treacheries, the creation of Israel etc.. never left the President’s mind and he made a point of giving all his political Western visitors lessons in history in all of his meetings with them.

Assad knew that his people, the Syrian people had what it took to be fiercely independent and all they needed was a leader they can trust, one who can galvanize them, and he knew he was that man. He was bemused by people who simply cheered for him to make themselves look good, but without proper understanding of his policies and strategies. He always sought allies, not stooges, but true allies who were able to understand, prepared to walk the talk, and walk the distance were rare and hard to find.

Patriotic education became an integral component of the school curriculum. Army conscription had already been in place. Yet many Syrians remained skeptical and regarded the whole exercise as Baathist propaganda. However, after 3-4 years of Muslim Brotherhood terror campaign of 1979-1982, many Syrians realized that Syria indeed had many internal enemies and that the leadership was able to deal with them effectively. Even though those events made Assad lose some popularity with the Islamic fundamentalists, but his popularity amongst the general populace increased. 

Later on, with Assad’s defiance to the American-Israeli plot, his refusal to surrender, his refusal to the “Reagan Plan”, his ability to turn the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon on Mehahim Begin’s head, his perseverance and successes, all finally paid dividends and made him gain more and more domestic support.

Early on in his “reign”, he was voted in because they had no other choice. Later on, some perhaps voted for him out of fear, but in each subsequent election, more and more Syrians voted for him out of conviction, devotion and love.

 After the angel of death took this great man away, continuity dictated that his son should succeed him. If this meant dictatorship, then it also meant that the fruit of 30 years of labour and sacrifices were not going to be wasted away.

 President Bashar Assad was steadfast and diligent to stick to the policies of reform and resistance to the Western-Israeli plot of submission.

It is of little wonder that by then the defiant proud and independent Syria had angered many nations and made a score of enemies within and without its borders. Enemies with very broad and diverse agendas, only united by their hatred towards Syria’s stand of honour.

 When the “War On Syria” started in 2011, the popularity of Bashar was very high, but some Syrians were taken by the fervour of the “Arab Spring” and genuinely thought that there was indeed a move in Syria for more and quicker reform. Those reformists however were not the ones that carried guns and destroyed the infrastructure. Before too long, the enemies who are consumed with their deep fundamentalist sectarian hatred emerged from the woodwork. 

 Before too long, Syrians advocating reform realized that they were duped, and one by one, individually and in groups, they are waking up to the true conspiracy. Even some of them who took up arms are now responding to the calls of reconciliation and amnesty. We have recently seen this happen in many places, the most advertised one was the one in Homs.

 Earlier on during the “War On Syria”, the West was “demanding” new elections in Syria. Now, with all of the recent developments, with the series of victories of the Syrian Army, and most importantly perhaps, with the rising popularity of President Bashar, the West is treating the Syrian Presidential Election like a non-event. 

 Little does the West know that before going to the polls, Syrians had 3 long years of war and 3 long years of remembering the words and warnings of the late and great Hafez Assad. Some of what he forewarned about did not make much sense to those with short vision. Now, they know that he was right. They had to learn the hard way. Now, they also know that for them to secure the continuity of their dignity, they have to remain steadfast and united behind their President of choice.

 Finally, the revolution of Hafez Assad had gone the full circle. His vision is now in the hearts and minds of his people to whom he devoted his life. 

 Long before the current elections, Syrians have decided to vote with their blood. Blood is thicker than water and reverberates thunders that will echo for centuries, long after the poll count has been taken.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Syrian Presidential Election; Devolution of a Revolution. Ghassan Kadi


THE SYRIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS; DEVOLUTION OF A REVOLUTION.
Part I. 
By Ghassan Kadi.   29 May 2014

 If we were to analyze the Syrian presidential election, we should stop and look at the controversy it is creating and the Western propaganda that are downplaying the ev...ent. In doing so, we must feel at liberty to have a closer look at the Western system that puts itself head and shoulders above any other political system in the world.


The West has bamboozled the world with terms such as Free Economy, Democracy, and so go forth, and gave descriptions to other nations that are not on par different descriptions of inferior ranks that go all the way from Second/Third World countries to being part of the “Axis of Evil”.

Western Democracy has not been given the test of universality of application. For it to be a universal model, it must have what it takes to make work under all socio-economic conditions. In reality, it has only been put to the test in nations that have already “reached” the so-called “First World Status”.

For the last two centuries or so, the West did not “need” any major change, an ideological coup to make life better for its people; and hence democracy, revised versions inherited from the Roman or Westminster systems worked fine. For the West that had usurped and plundered other nations, created for itself an economy of abundance, it is easy to pontificate and proclaim that it had found the perfect system, and then to have the audacity to say that the rest of the world must adopt it.
Now here is a question. Is Western style democracy able to make huge changes when such changes are warranted? 

 To answer this question, we will have to watch Europe and see if Western Democracy is going to be able to deal with the declining economic power of different nations in Europe. For better or for worse, we have already seen a taste of such scenarios in Greece, but this is perhaps the tip of the ice berg.

 In saying this, the USA is not far behind. According to some economic analysts, the American economy is far worse than that of Europe and even Greece. It had only been kept afloat by short-term measures such as “financial easing” (ie printing money), measures that will at best push away the fix, only to make it much harder to achieve. In this instance, the Obama administration knows what hole it is digging, but it is only making short-term measures that make it look good and popular.

 The bottom line here is that major decisions of governess which imply sacrifices by individuals for the sake of public good are often taken with popular disdain. Many people think about now and today. What is in it for me? How is this new government policy going to affect my business and my family? It is invariably on such individualistic bases that Western voters go to the polls. 

 This is why in Western democracies, politicians present hope and promise wealth and affluence. This is how they win votes and get elected.  

 Wars such as WWI and WWII did not last long enough to put Western Democracy under the long-term test of duress, neither did the Great Depression. Citizens of poor nations constantly live under standards that are well below those of the Great Depression.
When President Hafez Assad assumed power after the “Corrective Movement” in 1970 and had this followed by a referendum, Syria had a multitude of huge problems. It needed a total overhaul and gigantic nation-building programs. 

 If President Assad had to deal with holding on power the Western style, he would have had to either make false promises, or alternatively go to his constituency and say something to this effect:

“Our economy is in ruins, our army needs huge amounts of funds to be modernized and well equipped. We need to implement extremely tough economic measures. Most of you will be worse off for a long time before it gets better. We have to ban imports of all luxury goods. We must dedicate 80% of our budget to the army. Above all, all citizens must understand that their nation is in a state of war, they must fight sectarianism and fundamentalism, unite behind their leader, put their trust in his judgement, re and re-elect him until he gets the job done, and take it as it comes. And by the way, a ban on banana import will also be put in place….sorry, but if you want to eat bananas, you will have to learn how to grow them”.

In reality, these were the challenges that President Hafez Assad had to address, and the longevity of his presidency was the guarantee that the reforms were not to be derailed by some smart jump-up politician who would eventually come and promise the earth just to get himself elected.

 In simple terms, Western-style democracy where nation-building is essential does not work, especially when nations are in a state of war like Syria is. After all, Western leaders have two major concerns, how to get elected, and how to get re-elected, and they do this at any cost, just to appease their voters, treating public interest with least concern.

 The West will soon find itself in a dilemma in which aspiring politicians are going to find it very hard to get elected, unless they capitalize on rising emotions such as fundamentalism and radicalism. We are in fact witnessing beginnings to such trends in Europe. The Ultra-Right groups, including the Tea Party in the USA are aware of the loophole in the system and are using it to their favour.

 If democracy is going to work well, it will have to be based on what is best for the majority, not on cumulative majorities of private agendas. Western democracy has been based on the latter, and its failings were fairly invisible because it ruled during times of economic strength. This is changing, and the West will soon either have to drop the Democracy that it took to the world with B-52’s attached to it, or sit back and allow it (Western Democracy) to turn into a monster that will put extreme radicals in power.

To be continued.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE IRANIAN-SYRIAN EVOLUTION: By Ghassan Kadi

 
THE IRANIAN-SYRIAN EVOLUTION:
By Ghassan Kadi.  26 May 2014
 
The complexity of the Iranian-Syrian relationship is not any simpler than that of the Russian-Syrian relationship, and even though the labour for the former was shorter and the birth was easier, the relationship between the Levant and Iran, formerly known as Persia, goes back a long way, much longer than any interaction between the Levant and Russia.

After all, it ...was the Persians who first invaded Babylon and put an end to three millennia of Mesopotamian civilization. And even though Iran adopted Islam much later, but this came after losing the battle of Al-Kadisiyyeh to the Muslim Arabs.    

Whilst the two cultures mingled to a great extent after coming of Islam, rivalry between Arabs and Persian (Al-Furs) remained alive and well. For example, many Persian scholars excelled in the Arabic language and left well renowned legacies in Arabic literature, medicine, mathematics and other fields of excellence, but their Persian origin was always celebrated by their peers.

Arabs and Persians don’t even agree what name to use for the body of water that separates Persia from Arabia. Arabs call it the Arab Gulf, and Persian call the Persian Gulf.

What complicated the tense relationship between Arabs and Persians even further was perhaps the fact that Persia adopted Shiite Islam as against Sunni Islam to which the majority of Muslim Arabs belong.

But this is not all. When Israel was established in 1948, the Shah of Iran was quick to recognize the Hebrew state. He built strong relationships with Israel, and his troops conducted many joint military exercises with the Israelis, needless to say that he supplied Israel with oil, especially at war time to help Israel with its war efforts.

Moreover, in 1971 the Shah decided to grab 3 islands in the Gulf and called them his own, and no Arab Gulf state dared to challenge him, and later on in 1975, he coerced Iraq into sharing with him Shat Al-Arab, Iraq’s only and very narrow access to the sea.

The Shah was America’s “Gulf Police”, a bully and a thug much loved by America and Israel, and much hated by Arabs. His quick fall from grace eventually proved that he was much hated by the majority of Iranians as well. 

When he was swept away by the Islamic Revolution and left Iran on the 16th of January 1979 to never return, it was a very tumultuous time in the Levant, and especially for the then Syrian President Hafez Assad. Just a few months earlier, and specifically on the 17th of September 1978, Syria had just lost its most power ally when Egypt signed the Camp David Accords with Israel leaving Syria all alone. In a desperate attempt to find new allies, Assad tried to bury the hatchet and reconcile with Iraq, his Baathist cousins, but Saddam Hussein was a very suspicious man with an obsession for power that was much stronger than any Pan-Arab obligations. Some steps were made in the right direction, but the honeymoon didn’t last long and both of Syria and Iraq blamed each other for the collapse of the efforts to bring the parties together, but it was in reality in Syria’s vested interest for the reconciliation to come to fruition; a fact that clearly indicates who the culprit was.

President Assad knew well that one of Israel’s major objectives in Camp David was to divide the Arabs and to corner Syria so that it can bully it into submission. 

Furthermore, Syria was bogged down in Lebanon, with 30,000 troops stationed there unable to bring peace into the country, and last but not least, the Muslim Brotherhood was waging a terror campaign within Syria targeting military personnel and civilians known for their loyalty to the government; not to mention the wave of bombs and mass executions in which hundreds, including top army personnel and scholars, were gunned down in cold blood.

President Assad knew that he had to contend with the enemy from within on his own, but on the regional front, was waited for a miracle to happen, a miracle that would upset the balance of power to his favour.

Soon after assuming power, Ayatollah Khomeini was quick to renounce the United States (The Great Satan) and Israel, and in a tokenistic move, after severing diplomatic ties with Israel, he offered the Israeli Embassy building to the PLO for it to house its Embassy in it.

Those who knew President Hafez Assad well, knew that he did not have a single sectarian bone in his body, but the fact that he was born in an Alawite (Shiite sub-sect) family was to haunt his image and perception by some others for the rest of his life. In reality, it was the sectarians who accused him of having sectarian agendas, because often people with an affliction believe that all other humans are the same as they are.  With his national interests in mind, when President Assad saw the 180 degree turn in Iran, he saw in it a huge opportunity; the miracle he had been waiting to happen.

From a huge and mighty regional supporter of Israel and the West, almost overnight, Iran has turned in the opposite direction. How much better could this get? He thought. He was quick to endorse Iran and extended his support to the new government. But just because the new government in Iran was Shiite Islamic, conservative Arab Sunni leaders did not find it easy for them to follow the footsteps of Assad. 

He tried to explain to his Arab peers that his approval of Iran’s new government is one that is strategic, not religious. But to his dismay, Arab leaders, especially those of the Gulf region could not believe that an Alawite making any alliance with a Shiite state does not have hidden agendas.

What made his position less convincing to the Gulf leaders was his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982. In reality again, the crackdown, brutal as it was, was necessary to establish peace and order, and the culprits had to be hunted down regardless of their religious affiliations. If anything, the current war on Syria has proved that President Hafez Assad was a bit too lenient in allowing moderate Islamists to continue to operate. They simply gathered forces, regrouped, sought foreign support and waited to be strong enough to pounce back, and this time with great vengeance.

Iran too had a scandalous affair that sullied its name and helped strengthen the argument against it. When Saddam declared war on Iran, its military arsenal was all American, but with the American embargo, Iran was unable to get more supplies let alone spare parts. Israel stealthily approached Iran and offered to make those supplies. America’s intention behind the embargo was to enfeeble Iran and facilitate Saddam’s victory. At that time, Saddam was America’s regional favourite. Israel’s intention on the other hand was to prolong the war to enfeeble both enemies, and also in an attempt to woo Iran back into the pro-Israel camp. 

When the Iran-Contra scandal, as it became later on known, was all out in the open, the line of red faces extended all the way from Tehran to Washington. 

Iran was stuck in between a rock and a hard place, and obviously it chose pragmatism as against principles; a decision that eventually secured saving its neck.

However, the war with Iraq did not dampen the efforts to bolster the Syrian-Iranian relationships. Hezbollah was perhaps a big catalyst, and the new alliance of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah proved to be formidable enough to change the course of the region’s history.

The Iranian-Syrian alliance was the corner stone of the rise of Hezbollah to power and the Israeli defeat of 2000 when its troops withdrew unconditionally from Lebanon. Israel suffered another defeat in 2006 at the hands of Hezbollah, and currently lives in fear of being showered by its missiles.

Ever since the defeat of 1967, Assad’s nightmare was Israel’s military superiority. To defeat it or at least to be able to deter it was his dream. Finally, that alliance provided that deterrent he was seeking.

The current war on Syria was orchestrated by its enemies in order to punish it because it refused to surrender. In the world of today, there are only two types of states, those who will bow to the American will and those who refuse to. In the Levant in specific, Israel comes into the scene and the order of kowtowing becomes a bit more complex. A state that does not kowtow to both America and Israel will be punished by either one or both. 

What unites Iran and Syria is that they both refuse to kowtow.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Leading Up to 25 May 2000 By Ghassan Kadi




LEADING  UP TO 25 MAY 2000

Ghassan Kadi
25 May 2014

Fourteen years ago I was travelling, and I was in my hotel room watching the news with a friend (Scottish) when to my surprise I saw the Israeli troops retreating from Lebanon.  The (Western) commentary was saying that positions vacated by the Israelis were soon taken over by Hezbollah. My Scottish friend said:  “poor Lebanon, from one hand to another”.

I looked at my friend and said: “Do you know the real story behind this”. He said: “No”. Then endearingly I said: “Then shut up and hear it”.

Few people in the West, and indeed the Middle East, are aware what happened on that day and the monumental events that preceded it.

When the 1967 war broke out and Israel won huge areas of land from Egypt, Jordan and Syria, some  Lebanese that Lebanon is out of the equation and that the West will always defend Lebanon’s neutrality.

This is a long saga that would take volumes to transcribe into words to every detail, let alone the emotions and pain that I personally had first-hand  experience with.  But from a “neutral” weak and most definitely a very small state, Lebanon was destined to become the hammer that broke Israel’s back.

Soon after the 1967 war, and more so after the event of “Black September” in Jordan in which the PLO was kicked out of Jordan, the PLO turned Lebanon into its base of logistics and operations. Israel did not take this lightly and Lebanon, especially South Lebanon, was punished heavily with regular air raids and shelling, and in most instances, totally unprovoked.  

From 1968 till 1982, this nightmare went on and on relentlessly, and the inhabitants of South Lebanon had to flee from their homes on many occasions when the fighting escalated, and in many situations finding their homes in total ruins upon their return.

In March 1978 Israel launched a major offensive against South Lebanon and moved in by 40 kms to withdraw a few months later but not before it established a safety zone in order to keep Israeli territory beyond the firing  range of the PLO’s missiles. For that purpose, Israel sponsored a renegade ex Lebanese Army officer, Major Saad Haddad to establish the “South Lebanon Army”, which was nothing more than an Israeli watchdog, doing Israel’s dirty work.

But that measure was not “effective” enough, and in June 1982, Israel decided to invade South Lebanon and to push the PLO totally out of Lebanon. By then, Lebanon was already suffering from seven years of Civil War. Its people were divided between supported of the Palestinians and their cause and supporters of Lebanese neutrality.

By that time, those who believed in restoring Lebanon’s neutrality realized that it was not going to be easy, and it had to be fought for. To them, neutrality meant to appease Israel and to go cahoots with the Israeli-US road map which had reached a new pinnacle with the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt.

By that time also, even some Lebanese supporters of the PLO were growing weary of their support, and they felt that their sacrifices were neither reciprocated nor appreciated. There was a growing disgruntlement with the PLO in South Lebanon to the extent that some towns received the Israeli troops with showering them with rice; a tradition used to welcome those who are dear and valued. An inhabitant of the town of Katermaya decided to welcome the Israeli troops with a round of bullets in the air, another Lebanese celebratory tradition. To his dismay and that of his town, his bullets were mistaken as enemy fire and were responded to by the Israelis by heavy shelling that left the town in ruins.

The ficticious honeymoon didn’t last long. Almost immediately Israeli troops started to terrorize the population making sweeping arrests, often having a hooded person identifying people (mainly young men) who had any association with the PLO, albeit an association with someone who is Palestinian. Tens of thousands were arrested and sent to the makeshift prison camp in a town called Ansar, without any charges and/or any trials. On the economic front, hundreds of trucks laden with Israeli goods forced their way daily into the local markets, and their goods which mainly included fresh produce and fish, had to be all sold first before Lebanese producers could sell theirs. The flooded the market with all sorts of goods, including Coca Colas can with Hebrew script.

This is not to forget the state of general despair. Israel entered Beirut itself. The Syrian Army in Lebanon was a peace-keeping force, not equipped to fight with Israel. And even at the best of times, Syria was not able to confront Israel on its own. Nonetheless, Syria sent fighter jets to confront Israel and lost over 80 of them in dogfights in which Israel had the upper hand.  Needless to say that the staunchest Lebanese supporter of Israel, Bashir Gemayel, the Leader of the extremist right wing Lebanese Forces was elected president to the wish of his Israeli friends.

It was as if the Lebanese Civil War was not destructive and tragic enough.  Lebanon looked as fragmented, more helpless and more hopeless than the Arabs were 17 years earlier when they lost the Six-Day War in 1967.

Even though Gemayel was assassinated before he took office, his brother  Amin was elected as president and Ronald Reagan sent pieces of the Sixth Fleet and a few thousand Marines to peace watch. France and Italy sent some forces too. The PLO had already been driven out and moved its base to Tunisia and Arafat left Lebanon for the last time.

What followed the Gemayel’s assassination were the retributional infamous Sabra and Chatila massacres, in which the Lebanese Forces butchers hundreds of Palestinians women and children, who were left defenceless after the fighters were made to leave.

Lebanon seemed in a huge mess, one that it had no chance to get out of.  The future of Lebanon and its sovereignty looked as bleak as that of Palestine and its people. Israel was there to either stay, or to impose a peace deal with Lebanon, a deal that secured its interests and security. In fact, a deal with the Lebanese government was reached on the 17th of May 1983, but president Amin Gemayel did not ratify it.

No one in Lebanon could see a glimmer of hope in the horizon, but that was to change soon, and in the most dramatic manner.

To Israel and the USA, the plot seemed to have worked. What they did not prepare themselves for, was a Syrian-sponsored resistance group that rose from the ashes of the defeat of 1967, the betrayal  Sadat in 1973, the master plans of Kissinger that left Syria standing alone, and the plucking of the PLO out of Lebanon. 

For before too long, the headquarters of the Israeli operations in Tyre was flattened by a huge explosion killing tens of Israeli troops. Sporadic clashes between local resistance fighters and Israeli occupiers erupted here and there. The resistance gained momentum very rapidly turning the life of Israeli troops in Lebanon into a nightmare. They would walk with their backs to the walls and their fingers on the trigger. They flattened many banana groves and other orchards to prevent fighters from hiding, but nothing was able to stop the surge of resistance.

Then on the 23rd of October 1983, a triple suicide attack on the US Marines headquarters as well as the French and Italians, killing 241 Marines and tens of French and Italians. This sent them packing and Lebanon was left with Israel to contend with.

It took this resistance group, Hezbollah and its supporters, 18 long years of struggle to finally score a victory that combined Arab state armies were not able to achieve for over five decades.

The potion that was most difficult for Israel to swallow was that they replaced the fragmented relatively ill-equipped unpopular PLO with a highly organized extremely popular formidable army with far-reaching missiles that can, and did penetrate “as far as Haifa and beyond”.

When negotiating with Sadat on Sinai, Israel’s main aim was to isolate Syria, and Sadat, the fool, thought that he was truly negotiating.  Israel and the US kept the Palestinians out of the equation, refused to engage in a comprehensive peace deal, and for every inch of land they returned to Egypt, they scored more and more gains.

The Israelis were never used to being dictated to. They have been taught that they can dictate to the USA itself. After all, they coerced the feeble Carter to go their way in the Camp David negotiations, and made him pledge more and more financial and military aid.

For Israel to give up Arab land for no gain was totally unfathomable. And the South of Lebanon is not cheap real estate. It is rich in a very precious commodity that Israel has dire need for; water. But it had to give it all up and retreat with its tails between its legs. Israel referred to its defeat as a tactical pull-out. It was in fact the very first unconditional defeat and retreat of Israeli troops.

After more than thirty years of extreme duress and living under the mercy of Israel, having their crops burnt, their homes bombed and bulldozed, and their youths sent to jails….after more than thirty years of rolling funerals and displacements, the people of South Lebanon were finally free, and they owed their freedom to their own sacrifices, not to concessions and pleas from superpowers or the UN that would at best have given them empty promises and more and more subjugation.    

That was the story I told my Scottish friend. The epic story had him riveted giving me his full attention. He could not believe that such a gallant victory was reported on Western media with such disdain and inaccuracy.

This is a day I will never forget.
 
 
 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Russian - Syrian Evolution By Ghassan Kadi 22 May 2014


The Russian - Syrian Evolution
Ghassan Kadi
22 May 2014


The infamous Sykes-Picot agreement struck between Britain and France in 1920 meant that the Levant was not allowed to stay united and become independent. Instead, Greater Syria was divided into the states of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and the name Syria itself was restricted to a land that occupied less than half the land that bore the name.


Further land theft was imposed on Syria when France gave Turkey the provinces if Cilicia and Iskenderun, an act that was followed by ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Turks. Yet, another act of Western treachery perpetrated by the French.


But the biggest Western blow that Syria suffered from was the creation of Israel and the seemingly endless Palestinian human tragedy that followed. And it was as if it was not enough, the French and the British fought the Arabs on the side of Israel in 1956, and later on when the shuttle diplomacy of Henry Kissinger excluded every power broker other than the USA from the region, Israel became a virtual off-shore US state that receives limitless military and financial support to make sure that its military might will always be much stronger than all Arab armies combined. Kissinger went further by isolating Egypt from the Arab scene and leaving the military confrontation between Arabs and Israel restricted to the Eastern Front.


By the mid 1970’s, the audacity of Western meddling in the Levant reached a new height, and Kissinger was the master of dishing it out to all, including to the Soviets. But it was in that very same period that Syria and Russia were at least trying to form better relationships, but they had to take many stumbles and falls and learn the hard way.


A couple of decades earlier, in the 1950’s to be more specific, the Soviets had no idea what were the Syrian expectations of any collaboration between the two countries. After all, even during the first few years of the Baath rule in Syria, Communists were persecuted. The Syrian geopolitical ideology was very vague to their Soviet would be partners, and as if this was not bad enough, the multitude of Syrian “revolutions” and putsches did not exactly portray a good image of stability for Syria in the eyes of the Soviets.


In the years following the abysmal defeat of the combined armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967, the then Syrian Defence Minister, Hafez Assad realised that the only way to turn the tides to his favour was by way of forging a strong relationship with the Soviets because only and only their weapons were able to confront the military might of Israel. As a Defence Minister, his “boss” Salah Jdid was reluctant to turn Syria into a Soviet vassal (as he saw it) and Assad’s hands were tied, tied until he got in power.


Getting on top of the helms did not necessarily mean that Assad had the Kremlin up his sleeve. Reality was far from it. He had to work hard with the Soviets to prove that he was worthy of being regarded by them as a regional partner and not just an obscure provincial leader begging for arms.


Hafez Assad was still a novice in international politics back then, but he was an extremely quick learner. He knew that geopolitical partnership was based on mutual interests, and he had to be able to prove to his would-be partners that he is strong enough and with an apparatus that was stable enough to engage in reciprocal relations.


Early in the mark, credit must be given to his persuasive power as in the total lack of any track records and long-term history, the Soviets must have seen in him the spark that encouraged them to supply him with the advanced weapons of the time such as MiG21 and the heat-guided SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles among other weapons.


In the 1973 October war, Assad was betrayed by Sadat who had an agenda and a battle plan that were different from the ones that he discussed in length and depth with his partner in war, Hafez Assad, for over two years. Sadat abandoned Assad 24 hours after the first attack, leaving Syria fighting on its own, and then when he decided to resume fighting, it was too late for both of Egypt and Syria. Israel, aided by the influx of American weaponry, took advantage of the lull on the Egyptian front and eroded most of the wins of the Egyptian and Syrian armies on the ground.


The Soviets must have watched in horror to see the regional allies Syria and Egypt falling out and realising later on that they lost their role as a negotiator and power broker in the Levant. They definitely would have blamed most of this outcome on Sadat, his hidden intentions and how he was duped by the Americans. They might have even blamed themselves for not knowing that when they went to Geneva in 1974, Kissinger had already struck secret deals with the Israelis, giving them unconditional and limitless support, and fooled Sadat to rubber stamp a peace deal with Israel independently from Syria. They truly did not know that the Geneva conference was a fait accompli and that their presence was merely to make them witness an announcement that the USA is the only unrivalled decision maker.


The post Camp-David era must have seen a huge deal of covert blame and counter-blame between the Soviets and Syria. The hapless partners had no alternative but to either accept final defeat or bolster their friendship, but it wasn’t till 1987 that the Soviets were prepared to sign a treaty of friendship with Syria. It took President Hafez Assad 17 years to reach this landmark in history; albeit perhaps tokenistic because it did not have the chance to be given the tests of longevity and putting action into words.


The USSR collapsed not long after, and Syria was virtually left alone, totally alone in a very hostile environment, not knowing if it was still able to get more advance weapons, let alone spare parts for its Soviet hardware.


As Russia sank into the doldrums of the Yeltsin era, Syria was experiencing greater stability and economic growth. Prosperity and stability were further enhanced by a new-found form of security.


Hafez Assad had always lived with the nightmare of how to be able to confront Israel militarily. His initial hopes of fighting a conventional war alongside Egypt were soon dissipated, and in the post-Camp David era, his nightmare became even worse. If he was unable to win a conventional war against Israel, he could perhaps win an unconventional one; one that relies on popular resistance.


Eventually, what tipped the balance of power to his favour was a least likely partner, an initially small group of Lebanese resistance fighters by the name of Hezbollah. With his genius diligence and strategic planning, by virtue of his support, Hezbollah was able to score the first true unconditional Israeli defeat when Israel made a humiliating retreat from Lebanon on the 25th of May 2000.
Hezbollah was no match for Israel’s might, but it had the deterrence of missiles that can hit Israel in its depth, something that Arabs were never able to do in the past. More importantly, by arming and training Hezbollah fighters, Hafez Assad gave Israel a subtle message about his own strike power.


But as usual, Hafez Assad had always kept his best war secret close to his chest. In the skirmishes that predated the Oct 1973 war, the SAM-6 batteries were hidden and only put into action when the full-on battle broke out. Syria had always played the game of keeping the element of surprise for the enemy. Even now, all the limited Israeli intimidations of Syria did not tempt Bashar Assad to expose to the Israelis what his air defence arsenal is comprised of.


Finally, by the year 2000, Assad was able to say to Israel that if you attack us, we can retaliate. The balance of power has never seemed better. Hafez Assad died a few weeks after this colossal victory. He must have died with a smile on his face. He has finally been able to find an effective deterrent against Israel.


 By the time Vladimir Putin came to power, Syria had already found a way to protect itself and its stability and prosperity were on the rise. In more ways than one, Syria was in a much better situation than Russia, and in as far as the bilateral relationship between Russia and Syria was concerned, in a surprising reversal of fate, more onus rested on Russia to prove its worth.


It was perhaps by accident that two new fresh faces appeared on the scene in both of Russia and Syria almost at the same time. Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin found that they had a lot in common and a gargantuan past experience to learn from, both in as far as their bilateral as well as international relationships.


Syria’s fight was not over. Bashar Assad knew well that the only way for Syria to reach higher achievements was by rounding up more allies, mainly Russia. On the other hand Putin knew well that for Russia to re-enter the gates of the Levant, he needed Syria. Both leaders had to learn the hard way that the key was in bolstering their ties and friendship. The so-called “New World Order” in which America was the only superpower was one that marginalized Russia, eroded its global stature and shrunk is territory and sphere of influence. Russia lost most of its access to the warm waters of the Baltic. Former allies of the Soviet Union were coerced to join NATO and their soil was turned into bases hosting missile launch pads poised at Russia. Russia sat and watched as its former ally Serbia had to weather NATO strikes, and then sat in silence and watched America spread its dominance over Iraq.


It was in Ossetia where Russia drew a red line in 2008 for the first time since the fall of the USSR, but again, Russia endorsed the NATO intervention in Libya reportedly a decision that was highly regretted later on.


 When the war on Syria began in early 2011, it became clear to the Russians that this war was not at all intended to only bring down Syria, its secular status, and its position as the bastion of resistance against the Israeli/American roadmap. The aim was to also push Russia and its sphere of influence from the Eastern Mediterranean, the Port of Tartous, and also the huge untapped Syrian gas and oil wealth. That was a red line that Russia was not and is not prepared to allow the USA to cross.


Despite some business deals that Russia struck here and there in the Levant, including some with Israel itself, Russia has been out of the political equation of the Levant since the mid 70’s when the Soviets trusted Kissinger not knowing that he had only invited them to see them getting humiliated. Russia is intent to get back in, and it cannot do this without Syria, pretty much like how Syria cannot alone escalate it fight further against Israel, get more gains, support the resistance and retake the Golan without Russia’s technical and diplomatic help.


Much is at stake, and both parties know that they can both count on each other’s stability and trust.
The current Russo-Syrian relationship is not one that was forged yesterday in a hurry. It is one that has been more than six decades in the making. It developed and grew as both nations learnt how to better understand each other and each other’s needs and expectations. It had to weather the test of time and its ability to turn negativity, failure, deceptions and the meddling of traitors into lessons to be never repeated. It has developed from a relation of a beggar and a donor to one of two partners, not perhaps equal by size and might, but equal with their importance and viability to each other.


Every school kid in Syria learns about Sykes-Picot and the long history of Western treachery and deception. Every man woman and child know about the role of the West in the creation of Israel and its rise to power. If anything, as a result of the current war on Syria, those stories are replaying in every household of all Syrian patriots and the young children and youths are hearing those stories again.


With the imminent decline of the West and colossal rise of the BRICS axis, the time has never been better for Syria to undo the Western injustices perpetrated on its soil for over a century. Its alliance with Russia has come to age and matured at the right time, and in its forthcoming war win, Syria has proven to its Russian partner that it is a nation that is strong, by-and-large united, and one that is bent to play its role in creating a new poly-centric world.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Putin Elevates Military Cooperation with Assad. Translated by Ghassan Kadi and Intibah Wakeup


There has been speculation on the level of Russia’s support to Syria and the extent Russia will go to. It would seem that Russia was trying to deal diplomatically with the US in order to avoid escalation but with recent events in Ukraine it looks like the gloves have been taken off. We should also keep in mind the disappearance of MH370 and possibility that it was hijacked by the US in order to test China’s surveillance and other capacities as well as to deliver a chilling threat to China and Russia regarding America’s capacities in the area of electro-magnetic/directed energy weapons.  The more the Americans try to bully and manipulate Russia and China in this fight to maintain their total global dominance the speedier they hasten their demise.

Here is an important article that Ghassan and I translated.

Putin Elevates Military Cooperation with Assad.

 
Sami Koleib, Al Akhbar

20 May 2014

(Translated by Ghassan Kadi and Intibah Wakeup)

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has put an end to the innuendos regarding his stand on Syria after the Ukrainian earthquake.  He has reached new agreements with the administration of President Bashar Al Assad which assures that Moscow now is even more adamant in its support to the Syrian government than it was before the stand-off with Kiev and the West.

 

According to information, a joint economic community has been established between Syria and Russia. The overt pre-amble to this committee is to “bolster trade, investment and economic cooperation”.  The Russian side in the committee is headed by the Russian Deputy Premier, Dimitry Rogozin whilst the Syrian side is headed by the Finance Minister, Ismail Ismail.

 

If one looks closely at the Russian official it becomes clear that what is meant here, first and foremost, is to elevate military support to Syria.  Rogozin is far from being an ordinary person.  He is much more lethal than just a Deputy Premier.  Since he was appointed as a Deputy Premier by Dimitry Medvedev in 2011, he was put in charge of overseeing the military industries and to study and outline all that relates to defence needs. His success led to the extension of his tenure which has been renewed again since 2012 and he holds in his hands most of Russia’s military secrets.

 

This Russian Deputy Premier who is cooperating with the Syrian side, comes from the heart of Russian military warfare industries.  It is rumoured that the CIA and Israeli intelligence are interested in knowing more about him.  The White House and the American military administration consider him one of the most important Russian officials. Forbes Magazine described him as the chief of Russian Foreign policy hawks. Washington accuses him personally of breaching the sovereignty of Ukrainian soil.  His “inflammatory” statements about Crimea are often quoted.

 

It is for these reasons that the American administration listed the name of Dimitry Rogozin on the sanction list, considering him persona non grata, rendering him unable to travel to the United States, Canada and some European Union countries.  His properties in these countries (if indeed he has any at all) have been frozen.  It is said that he ridicules these decisions.  He argues that where you have mutiny you have to stop it and where you have terrorism you need to crush it.  He is a devout student of the vision of Putin himself. His presence will enhance decisive military actions in Syria.  

 

It would be quite naïve to believe that Putin has appointed this Russian hawk, who is in charge of many sensitive military portfolios,  just for the sake of forming a committee for economic cooperation with Syria.  The information asserts that his appointment in this position is to elevate the level of military support.  This has become more prominent now after the other axis has determined to try to change the balance of power in Syria despite its continued failures thus far.

 

The Syrian military administration does not normally reveal details of military arsenal that it receives from Russia.  What is also unclear is the extent and volume of direct Russian aid all the way from missiles, fighter jets, communication, surveillance, other weapons, training, experts etc. The outcome of this was clear when a Turkish fighter was downed as well as events on the battlefields.

 

The timing of the appointment of Rogozin coincides with the opening of the Turkish and Saudi military warehouses to the rebels as well as the increase of supplies of TOW anti-tank missiles which occured after Ahmed Jarba was received [in Washington].  The Russian decision also coincided with the meeting in London of the “Friends of Syria” which culminated in increasing the level of support to the rebels, a decision that was referred to by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as being “destructive and biased”.

 

Russia did not stop at this level, but went further by declaring a positive pre-emptive statement about the Syrian Presidential elections even before it took place. Alexander, Lokachivich,  a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that  “ …the upcoming Syrian Presidential elections is bound to become an important step towards protecting the government institutions and the peaceful settlement for the crisis in the country”.

 

It is therefore not surprising that the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister declared yesterday that his country is determined to veto the decision of referring Syria to the International Criminal Court. Yesterday, Russia and China have jointly elevated their international support for Damascus. In a closing statement to the Russian President’s visit to China in Shanghai, a joint statement said that “…Moscow and Beijing condemn any foreign interference in Syria and support the Syrian government and the international community in their effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and jointly call for the end of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.”  A statement like this is clearly directed to Washington, London, Paris and some regional countries.

 

This is what is revealed openly. But what is spoken privately between Putin and Assad is another story.

 

 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

HOMS OPENS UP THE DOOR FOR HELP by Ghassan Kadi 12 May 2014

HOMS OPENS UP THE DOOR FOR HELP
Ghassan Kadi
12 May 2014

Al-Manar has been "used" as a medium to expose what happens behind the scene, and to report what other news agencies do not dare to publish for various reasons.
It was on Al-Manar that we learned about the infamous first Bandar visit to Moscow. Not only Al-Manar broke the news, but also reported the details of Bandar’s desperate attempts to sway Putin to his side. It took weeks for mainstream media to even mention that the visit took place.

It was also Al-Manar that reported the truth behind the 2 American missiles that Russia shot down over the Mediterranean in September 2013. Whilst this report is not yet widely accepted, its support is increasing.
There are many such incidents and reports in which Al-Manar has made some statements, some directly, some in a tongue-in-cheek manner in order to make some hints, warnings, and important pointers.
In this respect, 3 days ago Al-Manar made a televised report explaining the importance of the strategic position of the Province of Homs and its return to government control.
If transcribed into do points, the reports talks about linking Syria’s south with north, securing the Damascus-Homs road, securing the borders with Lebanon, all of which is plain to see and deduce even by the not-so-keen observer and analyst.
Towards the end however, the report makes a paramount statement. The liberation of the Homs Province now connects Iran with Lebanon by land via Iraq. It has opened a safe corridor for Iranian supplies, and even troops. This means that should the war expand, and should Turkey and Israel and Saudi Arabia make yet another desperate military gamble by escalating the war, they will not be facing Syrian forces only.
Syria does not need this help. The elite airforce units have not yet been used, neither was the rocket power. The Syrian Army is now stronger than it has even been. The Israeli cities, the Achillis Heel, have so far been kept safe and sound. Their sirens are silent, the citizens didn’t have to rush to bunkers in fear of Syrian and Hezbollah rockets. But all of this can and will change in a whim if the equation changes.
With or without Iran, Syria is doing very well, but should Syria needs help, the liberation of Homs now means that the Suez Canal is no longer needed, and help is now closer, easier, quicker, and unstoppable.
http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?fromval=1&cid=21&frid=21&eid=837164